Friday, November 09, 2007

18 Years Ago Today

Aleks and Kat officially become ADULTS today! My babies are 18 whole years old! They are adults, fergoodnessake! When on earth did this happen?! How did time past so incredibly quickly? I swear, it was just yesterday that...

Seventeen weeks and a few days into my third pregnancy, I brought 5-year-old Erin (as Elisabeth was known then -- her actual first name) and two-year-old Peter to my neighbor's house and headed to my obstetrician's office where Tom would meet me and we'd see the images of our child on the ultrasound screen. The doctor felt that I was a bit large for 17-weeks and wanted to do an ultrasound just to be sure that there was only one baby in my belly. Because I had been large with both of my other children, I had no reason to believe that I was carrying more than one baby, but I was always thrilled to see the images of our moving, "breathing" child inside me so I was more than happy to oblige.

The doctor moved the wand back and forth slowly over my belly. "Well, " he said, "this is indeed interesting!"

"What is?" I inquired.

"This septum here."

"A septum?" I'd never heard of a septum in regards to pregnancy before. "What's a septum?"

The doctor smiled. "The septum in your nose separates your nostrils," he said. "And this septum actually separates your twins!"

I'm pretty sure I tried to speak at that point, but could not. In fact, that's when things went all white and starry. I heard Tom's voice, as if he were on the other side of a long tunnel. "Twins?" he asked. "Are you serious?"

"Oh, quite! Look for yourself!" And there they were: two tiny and very distinct babies, floating peacefully on the screen. No... floating peacefully inside me!

I was pregnant with TWINS! This was no Game of Life; this was REAL! We were going to have twins! The timing couldn't have been better, actually. I was no longer working, we already had the mini-van and the house with the bonus room. Our lives were already completely child-focused. The only adjustment we'd have to make was taking care of two more babies instead of one.

That proved to be much more work that we'd anticipated!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

At about 28 weeks into the pregnancy, I was put on modified bed rest. That meant mostly lying down, mostly not moving around a lot, mostly not cleaning or cooking or climbing up and down the steps a hundred times a day. And I knew I'd be mostly kidding myself if I thought there was any way I could curb my activity. I was, after all, a mother of two active young children.

Thank goodness for my mother, who flew to San Diego (where we lived) to stay with us until the babies were born. We anticipated a premature birth, but tried to hold on until about 36 or 37 weeks. Once I reached 37 weeks, we were thrilled, knowing that the babies were now big and strong enough to be born. Bring it on!

But nothing happened. I did laundry. I cooked. I climbed steps. And I reached 38 weeks. No babies. I walked (very slowly and wobbly) around the block, I did more vigorous housework. No babies. I reached 39 weeks. Reaching thirty-nine weeks with twins is very rare, and I knew that the babies were benefiting from staying in utero for so long. But I was miserable, and absolutely HUGE.

Finally, just days before I hit 40 weeks -- full-term for a singleton pregnancy, but unusually long for a twin pregnancy -- I began to have some contractions. They were barely perceptible, but they were there. We called the doctor and he told us to head to the hospital. Of course, now I realize that there was probably no need for us to head to the hospital so soon -- and actually, had we waited, I would have probably needed less intervention, but a twin pregnancy and birth are high-risk situations and doctors tend to want to manage them instead of monitor and observe them.

Once we got to the hospital, I was immediately hooked-up (IV, blood pressure, etc.) and put to bed. (Of course, I should have walked the halls to stimulate labor and help the babies settle into my pelvis, but did I mention that this was a high-risk situation that needed close management?!) Not long after I was in bed and lying flat, sounds began to seem muffled and the room became very far away, and I realized that was just about to...

I woke up to a flurry of activity around me. Oxygen, bed adjustment, and being moved quickly to my left side. It turns out that the weight of my belly had crushed my vena ceva and caused me to pass out. There was no way I'd be getting up to walk now!

At about this time, a nurse came into the room and announced that huge things were happening in Berlin -- that Germans had pretty much taken over the wall, with no strong military intervention! Could it be that the border between East and West Germany would be opened? The doctors and nurses could be seen watching the breaking news on the TV in the break room, and there was great excitement brewing, but at that point I was focused on one thing and one thing only -- birthing my twins.

I labored for a few hours in increasing discomfort, but wasn't making much progress at all. There was some concern that my uterus had been so stretched out that it couldn't work efficiently, and before long a C-section was recommended. Again, had I known then what I know now, I might have asked to walk a bit first, but at that point I was happy to do whatever it took to birth these babies, and the sooner the better!

I will never forget the party atmosphere that followed. The sheer number of people -- various nurses for each baby, attending physicians, etc. -- contributed to the party atmosphere. The babies were doing well and not in any distress, so the birth was going quite well so far, in spite of my uncooperative uterus. But it was the news from Germany that really dominated the mood in the room. The wall was coming down! And more significantly, for us at least, the wall was coming down in the land of my children's Opa!

My dad grew up in Chemnitz, Germany -- or, as it was known post-1945, Karl-Marx Stadt. He had not been able to go back home since a bomb had landed directly on his house just a few months before the end of the war, killing his father. And now the walls were coming down -- on the day of his grandchildren's birth! It was perfect!

Kat was born first, at 6:15 PM and weighed a healthy 7 pounds, 1 ounce. She had a head of thick black hair and she was adorable. Her legs were bowed, probably from being wrapped around her brother for months. Her cry was sweet and only lasted a few seconds before she settled down, opened her eyes, and looked around in quiet wonder.

Three minutes later Aleks (then spelled Alex, before he changed the spelling in 7th grade), weighing a whopping 7 pounds, 6 ounces, was born -- reluctantly, furiously, defiantly. 'Put me BACK!' his loud wail seemed to insist, and he held on to the doctor's clamps with such fervor that the doctor laughed as moved the clamps like the top stick of a marionette puppet, with Aleks dangling from them, wailing... seeming to chastise and challenge the poor doctor!

Ah, inborn temperament! What a wonderful thing!

And now... today, 18 years later, my babies are adults! And what amazingly wonderful grown-up people they are! They are best of friends to each other and they each have good friends of their own. They are independent and successful students who are working hard on their college applications (both focusing on UW, it seems). They are both funny, happy, and full of life, and I am so amazingly privileged to call myself their mother.

And a mother is always a mother, no matter HOW old her "babies" are! Right??

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Blog Antagonist said...

Happy Birthday to your beautiful twins! What a gorgeous looking pair you have there.

My sister has 3 yo boy/girl twins. Everyone thinks having twins is so special, and it is, but it is so much more work than anybody realizes!

Maria said...

Someone tried to tell me that my baby (10 months old) was no longer a baby. I realize he looks older, but come on. He is still a baby, and he will ALWAYS be my baby! :)

Happy Birthday to the twins!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your beautiful babies! and yes, a mother is always a mother, and they'll always be your babies.

Jen said...

What a simply lovely tribute! And the slide show was terrific! They look like wonderful young people.

Unknown said...

OMG! You went 40 weeks with twins! I sometimes say that birthdays are also mother's days. After all, where would be without our moms. Your two seem perfect.

christina said...

Aww, and Happy Birthday to your babies! And I'll say again: 40 weeks with twins! You are some woman. I was HUGE at 41 weeks with our second "little" guy and I wanted him out so bad. :-)

Dixie said...

I've been seeing stories today about how babies born on the night the wall came down are now eighteen but I didn't know your twins were turning eighteen years old as well! What a terrific story!

Anonymous said...

And to think that I always thought the job would be done at little I knew.

Happy Birthday to your twins, you guys did a great job!

Leslie said...

Congrats! It's amazing to think that the Wall came down 18 years ago. Wow! Their birth truly must have been a momentus time for you.

... and thanks for finding me!

Princess Cat's Pajamas said...

Happy birthday, Aleks and Kat!

anno said...

What a beautiful story! And yes, a mother is always a mother -- it's a title that comes with an unlimited term, no renewal required.

J said...

Happy bday, twins!

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